Joan Plowright

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'Relative Values' press night

Joan Plowright - 'Relative Values' press night at The Harold Pinter Theatre - Outside - London, United Kingdom - Monday 14th April 2014

Celebrities at the Raving Press Night at the Hampstead Theatre

Joan Plowright - Celebrities at the Raving Press Night at the Hampstead Theatre - London, United Kingdom - Thursday 24th October 2013

Joan Plowright

101 Dalmatians (1996) Review


Unbearable
Well, another new Disney movie is coming out and with it comes the theaters packed with screaming babies, very restless kids kicking your seat, and throngs of grownups providing running commentary of everything on the screen (to themselves, not the kids).

This is not a good thing. This time, the Disney movie is 101 Dalmatians, the live-action version, and if any movie could make me long for a quick and painless death, this is it.

Continue reading: 101 Dalmatians (1996) Review

I Love You to Death Review


Excellent
It's a film never particularly loved by audiences and unlikely to be rehabilitated by critics in the future, but I Love You to Death is nevertheless the perfect example of an overlooked gem. Coming right in the middle of director Lawrence Kasdan's extremely earnest period (The Accidental Tourist in 1988 and Grand Canyon in 1991), I Love You to Death took its cue from one of those true stories of horrific Americana that come bubbling through the tabloid mediasphere every few months and mined it for all its comic potential.

Kevin Kline plays Joey Boca - a guy who runs a pizza parlor in Seattle - as an oversexed, extremely Italian workaholic who is able to explain his chronic infidelity by saying with a straight face, "I'm a man, I got a lotta hormones in my body." It's a clown's performance, a filmmaker doesn't bring Kline in for this sort of role and demand subtlety but rather one that's so over-the-top it achieves a kind of genius that Kline also showcased in his similarly stereotypical role in A Fish Called Wanda (in that one, he played a clown's view of an American abroad, here he's the clowning pizza man, bad accent, bushy mustache and all).

Continue reading: I Love You to Death Review

Dinosaur Review


Grim
Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural selection. Much like The Lion King's "Circle of Life," Dinosaur regales itself in survival of the fittest, only few people are going to be humming "Hakuna Matata" after this one.

For starters, Dinosaur is that rarest of Disney animation flicks which is not a musical. There's a thumping James Newton Howard score, but the only singing here comes from trumpeting iguanodons and brachiosaurs. The story, on the other hand, is typical Disney kiddie fare: Iguanodon Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is orphaned as a wee dino-egg on a remote island, where he is raised, Tarzan-style, by a family of lemurs (er... okay). When a freak meteor strike blows the island away, along with much of the rest of the world, Aladar swims to the mainland with his lemur family on his back, where he meets up with the surviving herbivorous dinosaurs who have banded together to trek to "the nesting grounds," a Waterworld-style vale which hasn't been reduced to desert and ruins like, apparently, the rest of the earth. (And never mind the fallout; there is none...)

Continue reading: Dinosaur Review

101 Dalmatians Review


Unbearable
Well, another new Disney movie is coming out and with it comes the theaters packed with screaming babies, very restless kids kicking your seat, and throngs of grownups providing running commentary of everything on the screen (to themselves, not the kids).

This is not a good thing. This time, the Disney movie is 101 Dalmatians, the live-action version, and if any movie could make me long for a quick and painless death, this is it.

Continue reading: 101 Dalmatians Review

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont Review


Good
One of the sweetest stories of intergenerational friendship you'll ever see, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont will jerk a few tears and leave you feeling warm all over as it tells the tale of the unlikely relationship between an aged widow and the 26-year-old man who befriends her. That isn't to say it's overly corny. The film casts a harsh light on the loneliness of old age and serves as a powerful reminder that the neglect of the elderly is one of society's greatest cruelties. Watch this film, and you'll run for the phone to call your grandmother.

Mrs. Palfrey (Dame Joan Plowright) has decided to settle into the two-star Claremont Hotel in London's Lancaster Gate in order to be closer to her grandson and to assert a final bit of independence before her inevitable final decline. The rather dreary establishment turns out to be populated by a handful of lonely old-timers who sit solo at their assigned tables in the dining room and check each other out. Their main amusement seems to be gossiping about each other.

Continue reading: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont Review

I Am David Review


Terrible
Despite some recognition by minor festivals and to the joy of overprotective mothers, this story of a boy who escapes from a Bulgarian labor camp in 1952 comes as a mostly juvenile effort from people who are into sanitizing reality. Mostly it's unreal, bloodless, and boring, but as a sentimental fable designed not to shock the little ones, it can be considered a safe distraction.

Pre-teen David (Ben Tibber) has grown up a prisoner of fascists running a camp whose purpose appears to be the breaking up of rocks. His sole friend is Johannes (Jim Caviezel), an adult who mentors him as a father figure. When Johannes is shot dead over a stolen bar of soap, David is given instructions on how to escape, where to go, the advice to "trust no one," and a bag of essentials including a compass, a pocket knife, a bar of soap, and a sealed envelope for delivery to whoever meets him at his destination in Denmark.

Continue reading: I Am David Review

Curious George Review


OK
Parents who wisely decided against bringing their youngest to see Peter Jackson's ape epic King Kong will be pleased to learn that the animated adventure Curious George follows the exact same storyline to deliver a kiddie Kong that's accessible to all ages. Plus, at 87 minutes, it's half as long and nearly twice as entertaining.

The two movies are distributed by Universal Studios, hardly a coincidence. In fact, their plots share so many similarities one might want to investigate preliminary plagiarism charges. Both movies involve men facing financial devastation who traipse into uncharted territories in search of a valuable treasure that will put them back on their feet. Fortune eludes these guys, but they do discover a monkey - Kong in one, George in another - that follows them back to the mainland and proceeds to create havoc.

Continue reading: Curious George Review

Dinosaur Review


Grim
Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural selection. Much like The Lion King's "Circle of Life," Dinosaur regales itself in survival of the fittest, only few people are going to be humming "Hakuna Matata" after this one.

For starters, Dinosaur is that rarest of Disney animation flicks which is not a musical. There's a thumping James Newton Howard score, but the only singing here comes from trumpeting iguanodons and brachiosaurs. The story, on the other hand, is typical Disney kiddie fare: Iguanodon Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is orphaned as a wee dino-egg on a remote island, where he is raised, Tarzan-style, by a family of lemurs (er... okay). When a freak meteor strike blows the island away, along with much of the rest of the world, Aladar swims to the mainland with his lemur family on his back, where he meets up with the surviving herbivorous dinosaurs who have banded together to trek to "the nesting grounds," a Waterworld-style vale which hasn't been reduced to desert and ruins like, apparently, the rest of the earth. (And never mind the fallout; there is none...)

Continue reading: Dinosaur Review

Tea With Mussolini Review


Excellent
When I walked into the theater to see this film, I thought to myself, "Why am I seeing this movie? I have no interest in seeing it and I won't like it." Surly enough during the first ten minutes of the film, my preconceived notion was correct. It was a 'chick flick', case closed. But then the movie turned and started to appeal to me. I was really getting into it, and really absorbing the true story it was unfolding.

Tea with Mussolini focuses on the life of a boy named Luca, who is director Franco Zefferelli's alter ego. In Florence 1935, young Luca's mother is dead, and he is an orphan. Although Lucas wealthy father lives near by, he has no time for children. The father's English secretary Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright) sees the unjust way Luca is being raised in the orphanage. As a result she takes him in. Along with Mary's group of English tea time friends known as The Scorpioni, Luca is taught many things. He learns to appreciate art through the nutty, yet lovable artist Arabella (Dame Judi Dench). He learns of Shakespeare and culture from his guardian Mary, and learns how to behave as a gentleman through the other members of The Scorpioni.

Continue reading: Tea With Mussolini Review

I Love You to Death Review


Excellent
It's a film never particularly loved by audiences and unlikely to be rehabilitated by critics in the future, but I Love You to Death is nevertheless the perfect example of an overlooked gem. Coming right in the middle of director Lawrence Kasdan's extremely earnest period (The Accidental Tourist in 1988 and Grand Canyon in 1991), I Love You to Death took its cue from one of those true stories of horrific Americana that come bubbling through the tabloid mediasphere every few months and mined it for all its comic potential.

Kevin Kline plays Joey Boca - a guy who runs a pizza parlor in Seattle - as an oversexed, extremely Italian workaholic who is able to explain his chronic infidelity by saying with a straight face, "I'm a man, I got a lotta hormones in my body." It's a clown's performance, a filmmaker doesn't bring Kline in for this sort of role and demand subtlety but rather one that's so over-the-top it achieves a kind of genius that Kline also showcased in his similarly stereotypical role in A Fish Called Wanda (in that one, he played a clown's view of an American abroad, here he's the clowning pizza man, bad accent, bushy mustache and all).

Continue reading: I Love You to Death Review

Equus Review


OK
Why did Alan (Peter Firth) blind six horses one night? Because he's totally frickin' nuts, that's why. Nonetheless, it takes 137 minutes to drive that point home in Equus, wherein Richard Burton (playing Alan's psychiatrist) draws out Alan's bizarre mental confusion of religion, sex, and horses. In a series of intense shrink sessions, the truth is eventually made clear, well, as clear as possible, considering Burton's own insane rants, delivered directly to the camera. Good Will Hunting's got nothing on this looney bin! (Of note, since Equus, Firth has somehow made a career out of playing doctors and military officers.)

Mr. Wrong Review


Terrible
Ellen DeGeneres's subsequent sexuality announcements make her appearance as a single woman desperate for a man in Mr. Wrong more than a little humorous... and that's about it. Her schtick doesn't come across here, the jokes obvious from a mile away. And that's if you consider them "jokes." Bill Pullman is always a pleasure, but not even his fantastically dry wit can salvage this slow-motion train wreck.

Rock My World Review


Grim
An old English couple poses as servants and allows an American rock band to stay at their country estate for a week. This ridiculous story just about scrapes bottom when Alicia Silverstone applies glitter makeup to the face of Joan Plowright. Pity Peter O'Toole, who is so far above this material and yet takes everything in stride. He almost makes the movie worth watching for his stuffy butler performance.

Continue reading: Rock My World Review

Joan Plowright

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